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Organizational Strategies for Graduate Students

By on November 28, 2016 in Student life with 0 Comments

The vast majority of graduate students have significantly honed their organizational skills through undergrad and work experiences. However, there is always room for continued growth, especially in the area of organization. As you balance the demands of family, work, and school, it is important that you maintain a firm grasp on what others are expecting of you to ensure that you follow through with your many commitments. Here are several strategies to help you get organized:

  • Consider going back to a paper planner.

As connected as the world is to technology, it is hard to imagine that a paper planner would be more effective than our trusty smartphones that maintain our calendar across multiple platforms and provide us with friendly reminders of the tasks we have coming up. However, because of the detailed and demanding nature of graduate school curriculum, sometimes a paper planner can be more effective. The action of writing down your to-do list and the ability to see at a glance what you have coming up is extremely valuable. Additionally, a paper planner gives you room to jot down thoughts you may have about assignments, projects, or even your grocery list. The tactile experience of using a paper planner may be what you need to stay focused and organized on the pressing items on your to-do list.

  • Spare no expense on organizational tools.

Don’t put off buying the file cabinet you’ve been considering. Invest in those organizers you saw at the Container Store. As you are required to keep track of more information than ever before, it is important that you use tools that work for you. If budget is an issue, search Pinterest to see if there are inexpensive hacks for organizational tools you think would come in handy. The worst thing a graduate student can do is assume that the same method of organization that worked in undergrad is going to work in upper level study.

  • Don’t be afraid to use lengthy names for computer files.

It is tempting to keep file names short and sweet so they fit nicely within the screen view when you are looking at a computer file’s contents. However, as your hard drive fills with material, no matter how well you organize it on the front end, you are going to lose a document eventually. Computers have exceptional search capacities, but you have to make sure the filename is detailed enough that your computer can direct you to the correct document at a later date. Don’t worry about how long the file name is. Include all the important information. For example, if it is a journal article, include keywords from the title, the author’s last name, the source, the date, and even a few words describing the basic premise of the article. While these may look messy on the screen, they can be lifesavers when you can’t find a document during a late night writing session.

  • Beg, borrow, and steal.

Your classmates are all smart people. Don’t hesitate to take a look at how they are staying organized and borrow strategies that seem useful to you. They won’t mind a bit.

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